Updated: Mar 16
In this article we are looking at the in-ring performances of the wrestlers that performed on this past week’s episodes of AEW Dynamite, and AEW Rampage.
These wrestlers are professional wrestlers who 'compete' in the ring. However, as you know (!), the 'contests' are scripted and the finishes are pre-determined. This does not mean that the athletic feats and performances of the wrestlers are any less impressive than those of many profession athletes. So we are going to treat them as such and in the spirit of how professional football players are given numerical ratings after matches by journalists, we are going to attempt to do the same here. We will only be reviewing, and judging the performances of wrestlers who appear on Dynamite, and compete in-ring. Promos, and other interactions or appearances, are also taken into consideration for these competitors/
Like any opinion based review, personal preferences, tastes and enjoyment will impact scoring.
We will be using a ten point scale:
10 - Perfection
9 - Outstanding
8 - Excellent
7 - Great
6 - Good
5 - Fine
4 - Below Average
3 - Poor
2 - Terrible
1 - Unwatchable
0 – Incompetent
Dynamite 04/01/2023 – Seattle, Washington Debut
Match Number 1: Chris Jericho vs Ricky Starks
Fascinating match up heading into this. First match of 2023 for AEW, with the cornerstone of the company, against someone, who many believe should have been utilized like this much sooner, that could be a cornerstone that the company builds upon for years to come. First match with the new set, camera, and production in place, to accompany the PPV level of crowd. Really nice simple match, really nice simple post match angle, and great start to the year for AEW, and all involved!
Another man, who appears to have had a good Christmas and new years! The ten count clotheslines in the corner Jericho did early in the match looked really poor, not sure if he was taking off Roman Reigns in that spot or not. Didn’t like him pushing Aubrey, brings referee into the match as a character, when they should be facilitators for the two characters in ring. Utilizes the JAS at ringside very well for his cut off spots, Menard leg grab etc. Expert at utilizing the most simplistic of offence to garner heat. Nice, simple performance and match structure allowing Starks to gain the maximum from the occasion. Post match angle with JAS and Action Andretti, well done also, and sets table for future multi man matches - 6
Loved the new intro clip for Ricky Starks’s entrance, really going out of their way to present him like a star. However, as William Regal has repeatedly said in interviews, in his pod, and elsewhere, if you wear sun glasses in doors, you look like an idiot, something small, but a pet peeve of my own as well! Really enjoy the fire Ricky shows in his very simple, and effective strikes, and facials showcasing his intensity too. Old school rope walk and posing looks so effortless and cool. His very real selling of the suplex to the floor looked brilliant, made sure to be sitting up right and face fully visible, allowing floor cam to capture. His desperation clotheslines, back into collapse and arm sell was really nice. Perfect sit out powerbomb on a larger, significantly less athletic man. Love how limp he was off the bat shot, and the facial fire up during the crawl to the rope. Love the distance he travels, and height he gets for the finishing spear. Post match powerbomb to the outside, looked rough to take - 6
Match Number 2: AEW Tag Team Championship Jeff Jarrett and Jay Lethal vs The Acclaimed w/ Billy Gunn
The back drop to this match was amazing. Caster’s comments in his rap video, bringing in real life situations involving Jarrett’s wife, Karen, her ex husband, Kurt Angle, his two previous promotions GFW and TNA and many more hot button topics. The match itself was amazing. Perfect pantomime wrestling, orchestrated by a master of this type of performance, and generating classic ‘Rasslin’ heat. Personally gutted that the title change didn’t stand, but an amazing match and angle nonetheless.
Master of building anticipation and old school pantomime level heat. His comments in his My World pod this past, had the internet awash with excitement, with people unsure how much of this rivalry was real and not. Although being a 50 plus year old male, Jarrett is surprisingly nimble and sprightly. For what he does, he’s no less athletic, nor worse at bumping than Chris Jericho. LOVED Jarrett’s celebratory dance around the ring once Daddy Ass was ejected. Jarrett went full ham at this point and incited the crowd further masterfully. His celebration, then disgust when result over ruled was amazing. - 8
His ring awareness and ability to always feed and sell to the correct position for each part of a match are amazing. His slap and ‘chicken shit heel’ run away from Daddy Ass was very funny. Work is always incredibly solid, and technically sound. My one issue is I don’t know who Jay Lethal really is, aside from a great wrestler, Jarrett’s partner, and an amazing mimic of Randy Savage and Ric Flair. Wish he was a bit more comfortable expressing himself verbally and facially in ring.Came into the ring and tried to pin Bowens without being tagged – enjoyed the referee highlighting this and enforcing the rules. Loved how he worked both his arms and leg when rolled up by Bowens. Most only work their legs, while arms lay there. Nice touch - 6
Another Jarrett triggering rap pre match set the tone for the upcoming contest. His initial interactions with Jay Lethal, performing the Olympic Slam, the Ankle Lock, as well as Kurt Angle’s pose were very well done! He does incredibly little on the side of the ring while his team mate is being beaten down. Facials rarely change, except for when he makes a lude gesture. Off a hot tag, could clearly see him calling each of the spots he was about to do. Enjoyed Taz flagging there was a reason why Caster doesn’t typically fly over the top rope, after a very clunky vaulting body press. Weakest in ring of the four by far. - 5
Ever the workhorse of his trio, Bowens often carries the majority of the matches his group are involved in, both offensively and defensively. Facials are very good selling offence taken. I like how solid all of his strikes always look. Does a great job of finding cameras when selling his struggle. Nice front bump and sell for the Stroke from Jarrett. Again, every important sequence of the match involves Bowens heavily, very good wrestler. - 6
Match Number 3: Bryan Danielson vs Tony Nese
Nice match for Bryan’s homecoming bout. Glad we are now re entering Danielson wrestling on TV every week territory. Tony Nese on paper was a nice choice, and potential for great match, but by in large was all too short. Would love a longer match between these two, or with Nese’s partner Josh Woods. Nice post match segment too with Danielson and MJF. PPV level crowd electric for this.
Always strange finding a flaw in a Danielson performance. In the initial beat down from Nese, the premier athlete was throwing mounted punches on Danielson, and Bryan just lay there, no selling, no recognition that he was being struck at all. Only lasted for a few seconds, but it was something I noticed immediately, and again a once in a million occurrence for the world’s best. Bloodt love his corner strikes and how much he lays them in, and his intensity in selling his own fire. Knee strike, stomps, Regal Stretch combo for the win two weeks in a row. Danielson’s promo, including his humour, and knowing when to cut MJF from rambling too long were very well done. - 6
Truly is the premiere athlete. So explosive and fast from the outset, Always in great shape, well tanned, gear looks great, he may not be the most charismatic wrestler in the world, but he does everything he can on his end to be the best he can be. His roll up into one arm corner buckle bomb, initially looked great, but his trip and placement could have been disastrous for his dance partner. His running knee strikes look brilliant, both the ones that landed and missed. His sell for the missed knee, into the back flip for Danielson’s knee was so smooth. - 5
Match Number 4: Swerve Strickland vs AR Fox
Throwback to the Killshot vs Dante Fox rivalry in Lucha Underground – nice touch from Tony Khan, for Swerve’s hometown match in Seattle. Nice of the commentary team to stress Swerve’s presence in the area, and history with the Defy promotion too. Not necessarily my favourite type of match, lot of choreography and co-ordination for big spots and manoevers, but still very impressive.
Lot of nice flips and dives at the start of the match, setting the tone that they are very similarly matched in terms of agility and acrobatics. The less he shows off how agile, innovative and what he can do in a ring, and embraces his heel qualities and working traditionally, the further he will go in my view. Has great heel facials and taunts now, liked how he took his time before landing final stomp – despite Fox looking foolish - 6
Lovely smooth acrobatic at the start. Liked his trip with his legs from outside the ropes on Swerve, into a roll collecting Swerve and into a brain buster. Innovative offence but not sure how it furthers a story or character. Brought himself down to skin the cat – no need to as he was already at ring height – and then waited for a few seconds for one of the Mogul Affiliates to strike him, as part of the cut off spot. Very impactful 450 splash. The death valley driver onto the ring apron looked horrendous to take. His waiting for the diving double stomp looked like he was just sitting there looking up at Swerve waiting to be landed on. - 5
Match Number 5: Skye Blue & Kiera Hogan vs Jade Cargill & Red Velvet
Despite being brief, and filler before the main event, this was a nice outing for everyone involved. Jade Cargill is the biggest star in the company, hands down.
Oozes charisma and strength as soon as she enters the arena. Dominates the screen even when she’s standing on the outside. Some strikes can look somewhat sloppy, but her offence is perfect for her, and everything has improved dramatically. Her ability to let things breathe, take her time between spots, and let everyone register her are incredible. Doubt there’s anyone in history who has such command of these skills at under 50 matches on their resume. Her Jeff Cobb tour of the islands move looked amazing. - 6
Much the same as Skye, she has improved dramatically, but like Skye, can look like she’s completing a routine, rather than in a fight. Home grown wrestler nonetheless who is improving with every outing. Took a front bump a few seconds too early before Hogan’s step up leg drop, something small and most will have missed but looks a bit silly once you see it. Facially she is excellent at selling emotions and finding cameras when she needs to sell an important point of the match - 4
Huge improvements made by Skye this year, but her movements between moves still need a lot of improvement, can look at times like she is performing an agreed sequence rather than in a contest trying to win. Sold all of Jade’s offence well, but I wish she would showcase her struggle in her face more, and try and find the cameras. - 5
Always enjoy her dynamic and impactful offence, glad she is now split from the Baddies and getting the chance to showcase herself. Take an awful lot of steps when moving around the ring, makes her look very small, particularly when she was running around the ring. - 4
Match Number 6: TNT Championship – Samoa Joe vs Darby Allin
Loved this. Start to finish. Some may dislike Darby’s artistic videos before big matches, but I thoroughly enjoy them, and they make him really unique. Great moment for AEW’s first show of 2023, and their first major show in the north east of the United States. Glad they seemed to have gotten apst the stage of passing the TNT title around to everyone who deserves a turn, and focusing on people who can elevate it back to prominence. Great match, great pairing, hoping for more from both in the future.
Samoa Joe being cool again is fantastic. He could have done a better job of catching Darby off the ladder jump at the start, turned away instead of trying to catch him. Joe sells fatigue very well. His occasional offence is so explosive and physical, its easily believable. Loved Taz’s line ‘skateboards are cool, but they aren’t as violent as Samoa Joe’. His chops on the outside were outrageously physical. For a man his size, his code red bump, ability to maneuver himself around the ring following it to always be in the correct place, and not slow the momentum of the closing sequence were amazing. - 7
Suicide Dive to start was crazy, followed by the skateboard offence, and ladder being introduced before the match even starts. Evens the playing field by doing this, and makes Joe losing all the more realistic. Took a crazy dive a from ladder and rough landing. The urinagi onto the stairs from Joe looked incredibly sore. His sell and bump from Joe running his head into the corner post to the outside was amazing. His ability to endure, and withstand punishment, makes him one of the most unique, and endearing baby faces in a long time. His facials, groans and movement add so much to his fan appeal. Loved the struggle and fight he showed when trying to german suplex Joe. Sell for Coquina Clutch was so realistic and nice. - 8
Match Number 1: Jon Moxley and Bryan Danielson vs Top Flight
Great that this series of matches between BCC and Top Flight are continuing, and the Martin’s are getting this chance to learn and improve. Glad Bryan is also back being featured with other BCC members. Wish they had a single entrance and theme though.
Great to see Danielson taking the time to dish out the punishment / learning beatings that Moxley and Claudio have been doing. Really laid everything into Dante in particular, no holding back on any of his strikes. Darius seems to have taken his beatings the last few weeks, and showing his necessary fire now, and Dante is this weeks target. - 5
Truly the teacher he claims to be. Excellent quick tags, lovely physical wrestling from the wrestler of the year 2022. The least featured of the 4 men from the outing. - 5
Nice touch trying a jump start and taking Moxley out during his entrance. Showing how they’ve changed throughout this series of matches. Took a lot of punishment from Danielson from Bryan early – zero holding back from him. Looked to be really testing Dante, and if he really wants it. Flip off the top rope Frankensteiner was incredible. Athleticism effortless as always, but wish he would see his pain, and intensity on offence, or at least show something and register it with the audience/cameras. The opposite of Ethan Page last week, willingly gave Bryan his arms for the Romero Special – something small, but these small things make all the difference. Really wish he would sell upwards and let us all see and register his fatigue and pain, given ample opportunity to do so. He took a massive lariat from Moxley, sold it very well, but lay there staring at the ref waiting to kick out. - 4
Loved the additional aggression and fire he is showing from the last few weeks. The slap off the headlock and tackle at the start, and his unwillingness to back down now are great. Strikes are vastly improved, significantly more physical and more purposeful. Showed some lovely drop kicks and nip ups himself. Nice physical hot tag offence. Chris Jericho commented ‘so happy he came in with fists up offence, rather than float overs and flips’ – the Ocho reading the room perfectly. Loved him firing up against Danielson mid kicks, and really laying in his own strikes. Didn’t like his two leg slap kicks from the outside, but shortly made up for it with an amazing sell on Danielson’s knee. - 6
Match Number 2: Britt Baker & Jamie Hayter vs The Renegade Sisters
Fine match, showing Baker and Hayter as a team. Renegade Sisters both worthy opponents to show case this, could be worthy of a spot on the roster in another few years.
Nice forearms and other strikes at the outset. Robyn gave her an Irish whip, and she willingly ran along with it long before Robyn had pulled her arm, or her arm was anywhere near fully extended. Lot of small steps made her look small. - 4
Amazing selling as always. Fire up off the double suplex had the arena jumping. Nice traditional heel work taunting the opposing tag, teasing them into the ring to distract the ref. - 5
Facially sold beat down from Hayter very well at the start, couple of very nice physical drop kicks. As JR flagged, immediately went for the pin to try and win. Not a lot else to add following the start - 3
Great intensity and physicality from the outset. Intensity and selling slowed down rapidly. - 2
Match Number 3: Preston Vance vs Sonico
Squash match purely to continue the development and push of Vance
Glad he’s getting his push now. Always in shape, always has great gear and tan, controls the controllable. Widely acknowledged as one of the most hard working younger wrestlers in AEW. Nice taunt, full nelson and clothesline – it was what it was - 5
Wears a mask and stuck his tongue out, didn’t sell particularly well, or let us see his pain - 1
Match Number 4: TNT Championship Darby Allin vs Mike Bennett
Nice pre match promo setting this up. Glad Bennett, and the Kingdom are back on TV, hoping and expecting them to be heavily featured in 2023 now, and to be featured alongside Adam Cole upon his return. Nice match between two great wrestlers. Nice first defence from Darby, and start to the open challenge series.
My favorite entrance in wrestling. Such a unique presentation, mystique and aura. Spent majority of match selling, and allowing Bennett to build heat on offence. Like on Dynamite, Darby sold his pain so well facially, physically, audibly and facially. His fight back while on one leg show cased his fire so well. Uses his wrestling IQ well in this outing, and shows he’s more than just a daredevil, and someone willing to endure extreme levels of abuse. Shotgun dropkick to the floor, in a seated Bennett looked like a very sore bump on his backside. Code Red from top into Coffin Drop was very unique finish – 7
Nice simplistic, well executed offence, sells well for everything he gives and receives. Good solid wrestler. Fallen a long way in terms of presentation and charisma since his ‘Miracle’ days in TNA, but hopefully alongside Taven in a tag he can overcome that. Nice solid Russian Leg Sweep to outside, landed right on tail bone, has to have been very sore. Lovely dragon screw. Physically living up to his new tag line of Boston Strong Style. Nice pile driver, and pin, his weight entirely on the chest and shoulders of Allin, really showcasing he was trying to win a match. - 6
Battle of the Belts 06/01/2023
Match Number One: No Holds Barred AEW World Tag Team Championship
Jeff Jarrett & Jay Lethal w/Sanjay Dutt, Satnam Singh vs The Acclaimed w/ Billy Gunn
Second amazing outing from these 4 in the space of 3 days. Jeff Jarrett has been an amazing foil to bring everyone in this match to the next level in AEW, and to be taken seriously. Brilliant match, with a brilliant crowd, continuing right where they left off on Wednesday. Strongly disliked the referee bump from Satnam Singh, could have used an extra. Really protected spot, and done twice in the last few weeks, following Athena striking a referee. The more something is done, the less important and impactful it is – wrestling 101.
Some of the best right hand punches in the business, learned from Jerry Lawler no doubt. Not the most dynamic back bumps from the over 50 year old Jeff, but no worse than many other over 50 year olds involved with AEW. The headshake before strut was majestic, right into the Hogan ear taunt. Multiple fast bumps for Caster, including off the Olympic Slam. Loved his Ric Flair begging off from Daddy Ass with the guitar - 7
Amazing figure 4 roll on the ramp with Bowens. Nice dive onto Bowens on the outside. Everything technically sound, just wish he could show off more of his own personality in this. Does the Jarrett taunts, but again that’s Jeff’s shtick. Tough but nice bump off Bowens lariat. Nice twist dropping the elbow drop on the referee. Lethal Injection is possibly the nicest looking move in wrestling. - 6
Great pre match pre amble, and fortuitous timing with Vince McMahon announcing his return to WWE the day before. Can look facially almost uninterested when in ring, and looks like hes strolling almost when running the ropes. Nice Olympic Slam, into Angle Straps taunt, into Ankle Lock – wish he would sell his face more when doing all this, and in particular his eyes rather than looking down the whole time. - 5
Great striking exchange with Double J to start off, into the flipping neck breaker. Always the workhorse of the team in each match. Seemed to forget the rope running spot before Lethal dived onto Bowens, made Lethal run extra as a result. Clothesline off the rope cut off spot was really nice. Amazing selling off so many big impact moves, he’s almost a one man team in here at times. – 7
Match Number 2: TBS Championship Jade Cargill vs Skye Blue
Glad Jade is getting more regularly matches on tv now, and live in ring time. Glad Skye is getting this opportunity, she was by far the better of the two that Jade faced on Wednesday night, nice solid outing for both. 48-0 for Cargill, you would imagine 49 will be Red Velvet, and looking forward to seeing who they have lined up for the 50th bout.3
Don’t think anyone in entire company knows themselves or their character as well as Jade. Knows who she is with every movement and action. Sells and oozes personality and confidence with every step she takes. Even her begging off to gather herself on the outside with Leila Grey was very nicely done. Growing in her role as a champion. Pump kick and choke slam on the outside were both very physical. Love the push up taunt and count along spot. Her cut off pump kick is perfect, or as Jericho on commentary called it “majestic”, bit clunky before that when Skye was waiting to be instructed where to go next. Outrageous catch off the huracanrana, back up to powerbomp, switch around, over her shoulders, into the Jaded – amazing sequence, from an amazing star - 6
Some nice technical wrestling at the start, sold well off some big offence on the outside, and took some heavy physical abuse from Cargill, wish she would sell her pain and struggle to the crowd and camera more, head is nearly always down or facing the other direction so we don’t get to appreciate the effort she’s going to. Nice fire up off the miscued head scissors spot, some nice kicks and strikes – again I wish she would show her fire to the crowd and cameras. Nice facials before roll up on Jaded, and the code blue, showing her incredulity to the referee off the 2 count. Too many steps as she went across the ring to Jade, again made her look small, and took too long. – 5
Match Number 3: All Atlantic Championship Orange Cassidy vs Kip Sabian
Nice spot for Kip after months of building to this point, main evening one of the Battle of the Belts specials. Glad hes getting some sort of a shine and platform, really for the first time since he joined AEW in 2019, and with a fully defined character, and good presentation now, rather than being another kick pad cruiserweight previously. Nice match, probably went about 5 minutes too long. Orange Cassidy is criminally under rated, and rarely has poor outings.
Fast start from Orange, showing the strain and stress Kip has put him under the last number of weeks and months. Lot more serious in his offence, showing his anger and striking ability. He’s been able to showcase this as a champion again recently. Sells well, without selling facially hugely. Very expressive with his body and showing where hes hurt and exaggerating his movements. Always makes sure the camera captures him regardless. Much like Darby Allin, always takes a huge amount of punishment wonderfully, builds heat, and shows himself to being rightly one of the key babyfaces in the company. Nice waist look exchanges into the double down towards the end. Love when he throws some very meaty physical forearms, utilizes his whole body and looks amazing. Fires up so well, impossible not to get on board with him. - 6
Nice smooth wrestling, really good wrestlers as JR flagged on commentary. Kip singing Zombie by the cranberries at ringside while wearing Orange’s sunglasses popped me. Great to see this character development for him. Best Friends hug spot with Penelope and Allie was a nice way of showing the psychological games he’s been playing since this character change. Nice catch of Orange into the swinging neckbreaker on the outside. Even under extreme duress, Kip continues to mock Orange, and delivers a series of excellent knees and kicks for a series of close calls. The spring off the ropes into suplexes, and neck breakers are really nice – Tully Blanchard esque. - 6